Dear Editor:

For the second year in a row, Scotch Plains has been recognized as a “Healthy Town” by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. Only eight towns in the state earned this prestigious designation in 2020. We were first recognized as a “Healthy Town to Watch” in 2018, and I could not be prouder of the progress we’ve made since then.

One of my greatest pleasures over the last four years was leading the Mayor’s Wellness program. It was rewarding to have so many local partners offer our residents healthy activities to participate in, especially during the pandemic. I saw firsthand that even during a global health crisis our residents were focused on being as healthy as they could be.

I want to thank all our 2020 partners who helped make the program a success again last year, with  special thanks to Lisa Mohn and Jeff Stein for running our great healthy farmers market, Rev. Susanna Cates for her plant-based healthy cooking series, Lori Sternberg for her series on healthy eating and exercise, Mary Clair Givelber for her series on mental health and tips on how to deal with the pandemic, and DJ Salvante, our township’s Recreation Director, who provided a wide range of programs for all ages and lifestyles. Also, incredibly special thanks to Margaret Heisey and Tom Strowe, who directed the program at different times during the year and helped bring so many unique programs to reality.

I’m confident that Mayor Losardo will lead the town to another healthy designation for 2021, and I’m looking forward to participating in as many Mayor’s Wellness events as possible.

Finally, to the people of Scotch Plains, you showed incredible strength and courage during the pandemic of 2020. During those first, darkest months, I tried to do my part through daily updates and by encouraging you to follow the latest health guidelines, but the real credit belongs to you for doing your part. Let me offer one more piece of encouragement: if you’re reluctant to get the coronavirus vaccine, I urge you to get one ASAP.

The vaccines have been proven safe, and offer our best hope to defeat the virus and return to the life we had just 13 months ago, with fully opened schools, businesses with normal hours and capacity, and most importantly the ability to gather with our friends and family, as free people should. But we all must do our part, so let’s go. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining brightly.

Former Mayor Al Smith
Mayor’s Wellness Committee
Scotch Plains, NJ